What is SAIL?

Because the arts express the soul of the human spirit, education that incorporates the arts in learning is education that speaks to the individual; the student, the teacher, the parent, the community. Arts in education is good education.

Systemic Arts Integration for Learning (SAIL) is a project of the Antioch University New England’s Center for School Renewal (ACSR), in collaboration with more than a dozen nonprofit arts organizations, universities, schools, and school districts throughout our state. SAIL began in conversations during 2002 within New Hampshire’s arts and education community. The three New Hampshire-based arts integration programs listed above have received national recognition and sustained funding because of their innovation and success. As those programs flourished, the publication of the report Critical Links added data to our objective as well as anecdotal evidence that when school curricula are integrated through the arts, students gain not only academically, but also improve their self-concepts and self-confidence. Like many other educators, SAIL’s partners were concerned that the arts can be marginalized in schools focused increasingly on quickly raising their scores in standardized tests of reading and mathematics. In such cases, the value of the arts as an integrative tool can go unrecognized.

With a grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers, the New Hampshire State Department of Education and a team of arts education experts organized and conducted a year-long series of conversations throughout the state. The purpose of the discussions was to determine how the arts and arts integration could be used to help schools address issues of accountability and the increasing pressures that schools face under the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Participants in the discussions agreed to work together in a statewide partnership for arts education and integrationSAIL.

In their early work together, SAIL’s partners established an executive team and working procedures; hired a project director; developed liaisons and partnerships with a range of constituent groups throughout New Hampshire; designed and implemented a fund-raising campaign; established relationships with existing national model arts and integration programs; published a research report investigating best practices in arts integration; and recruited schools to participate in SAIL’s programs.

Arts Integration: A Means to an End

Arts integration is rising to the demands of a research-based model for school improvement and as a means to creating successful schools. Through concerted effort, we can more safely make judgments about the real effects that arts have on learning. In addition, we can build on the meaningful work of arts integration specialists who conscientiously develop curriculum and instruction on learning theories, brain-based research, and quality instructional practices that are driven by the power and the passion of the arts. Because the arts express the soul of the human spirit, education that incorporates the arts in learning is education that speaks to the individual; the student, the teacher, the parent, the community. Arts in education is good education.

Mission, Goals, & Outcomes

Our mission is to foster the creation, dissemination, evaluation, and improvement of high-quality education programs in arts and arts integration. These programs are intended to:

  • improve student learning across disciplinesespecially among underserved or disadvantaged studentsby helping schools integrate their curricula through the arts. Studies have shown that underserved and at-risk students achieve significant academic gains through arts integration;
  • address the special needs of all students that are not being effectively addressed by other methods;
  • increase arts literacy and appreciation of the arts and humanities among students, teachers, and communities;
  • improve teachers’ content knowledge and classroom practice;
  • effect positive change within schools, such as:
    • increased attendance rates;
    • opportunities to demonstrate and evaluate student learning in a greater variety of ways;
    • teacher, curricular, and school renewal and improvement;
    • and teachers’ expanded perceptions of students’ abilities.

SAIL’s overall goal within this mission is to provide comprehensive guidance, advice, technical and other assistance to all New Hampshire K-12 public schools that wish to strengthen their arts programs and/or integrate curricula through the arts. Our objectives within that goal are reflected in the purposes of the programs we will help to disseminate, which are to:

  • increase arts and humanities literacy among students, teachers, and communities;
  • improve student learning across the humanities and other disciplines by helping schools integrate their curricula through the arts;
  • address the special needs of underserved and disadvantaged students that are not being effectively addressed by other methods; and
  • effect positive change within schools, such as increased attendance rates; opportunities to demonstrate and evaluate student learning in a greater variety of ways; teacher, curricular, and school renewal and improvement; and teachers’ expanded perceptions of students’ abilities.

SAIL Outcomes – Strategies that support a statewide system of arts integration


I. Build knowledge and practice

  • Develop best practice guidelines for arts integration
  • Design and run summer training and leadership institutes
  • Establish interactive teaching and learning via technology

II. Support school improvement

  • Assist schools with needs assessment
  • Match school needs to model programs and practices
  • Assist schools with improvement goals by contracting with model programs for delivery of services
  • Build a network of schools who choose arts integration for school improvement efforts

III. Support arts and arts integration

  • Build a network of model arts programs
  • Provide a learning community for model arts programs
  • Act as a broker for model arts programs and schools
  • Provide a venue for building teacher expertise in arts integration
  • Develop leadership skills at the school-level to support arts integration
  • Build capacity through teacher training and leadership training


I. Build a body of evidence regarding arts integration

  • Identify and synthesize the current body of evidence
  • Identify gaps in the current body of evidence
  • Construct research tools to capture the successes that are unidentified or under-identified
  • Survey schools to determine who, what, and how the arts disciplines and arts integration are implemented (baseline data)
  • Track standard measures of success for participating schools (arts as value-added)
  • Assist schools with data-driven decision-making efforts
  • Design and implement action research studies
  • Create longitudinal studies that capture student learning and successes over time

II. Use research to inform

  • Apply research results to best practice continuum
  • Apply research results to professional development objectives
  • Inform schools, parents, communities, state decision-makers of research results
  • Identify national trends and apply such trends to SAIL work

III. Publish research findings

  • Submit research to state journals for publication
  • Submit research to national journals for publication


I. Convergence of knowledge

  • Participate in state conferences where leaders converge
  • Gather knowledge and ideas related to SAIL
  • Apply knowledge to SAIL
  • Invite key decision makers into SAIL

II. Emergence of new knowledge

  • Identify the emergence of new knowledge and national trends and apply such trends to SAIL
  • Participate in regional and national conferences
  • Establish SAIL as a state, regional, and national base for arts and arts integration

III. Disseminate knowledge and information

  • Maintain a website link for SAIL
  • Provide state, regional, and national leadership
  • Connect with other agencies and non-profits that support SAIL concepts and operations
  • Educate the public to understand the effects art has on education
  • Embrace students as powerful messengers
  • Use data collected by research to promote and support arts education and arts integration
  • Develop publications for distribution to decision-makers and others

What is arts integration?

Arts integration is the classroom practice of using the arts as an instructional tool to help students develop competence in other curricular areas. The personal and expressive nature of the arts engages a child’s interest and attention and becomes the consistent means by which students become personally connected toand invested inideas and content in a range of subject areas. To see what arts integration looks like in practice, we can consider an example. The nationally validated programPicturing Writing: Fostering Literacy Through Art uses art-making as a fundamental tool in developing the ability to write among children at riska skill essential to participation in the humanities as well as most other pursuits in school and the world beyond.

In Deborah Rowen’s second-grade class, students are writing stories. But they begin by making textured paperpaper daubed with paint from a sponge, swirled with paint blown through a straw, and given intriguing appearances through other creative techniques. As they create their textured papers, a Bach concerto plays in the background to suggest moods that often are expressed in the movements the children make in applying paint to page. Then, inspired by their papers’ varying textures, the children cut shapes from the papers to represent animals, trees, people, buildings, and other elements in their stories.

After looking at his textured papers, Ross leans on the back of his chair, looking forlorn. Having difficulty crating a bridge between his ideas and the blank piece of paper before him, Ross watches other children making their stories. Suddenly, his eyes light up. He picks up a sheet of paper marbeled in blue. I think I found something, he says. A thing with two eyes and a mouth. He ponders a while and then smiles. I know what my story is calledDo You Know What an Animal Is? I’m gonna try to find all kinds of strange things to be animals. The animals that do exist don’t exist. I want to say that the strange animals are the real ones.

Ross begins to cut out shapes from various sheets of paper. This one is a Frost Cackelor, he explains. He spits out ice from his mouth after he swishes water inside his mouth. Inside his mouth is very cold. He doesn’t like to be disturbed while he’s making his ice.

Jared has made pictures that portray a yellow-eyed coyote stalking a fox pup which is rescued by its mother. Not only did Jared bring the reader face-to-face with a starving coyote, but he also darkened the sky to make his problem picture scarier. After creating his pictures, Jared chose language specific to the purpose of each page of his story. To accompany his problem picture, he wrote, Suddenly, he came out to an open field, where there was a coyote that was hungrily staring at the pup with his golden eyes. The starving coyote was ready to charge at the young pup. Jared purposefully chose words and phrases like suddenly, hungrily staring, golden eyes, starving, and charge to make his story scarier; from the reading he had done, he understood that exciting words heighten drama and suspense.

David took time from making his pictures to say, Writing used to be hard, but now it is easy. All I have to do is look at each picture and describe some things I see. I listen to my words to see if they match with my story and they always do.

In Picturing Writing, pictures help capture and focus the child’s attention and support the child’s search for accurate words to write the story. In talking about the process, Hannah said, I always make my pictures first because then I can look at my pictures to help me with my describing words. If I wrote my words first, I wouldn’t be able to see my describing words in my pictures. Kelsey expressed the same thought. The pictures gave me all the right ideas to put in the sentence, she said. As Serena put it, The pictures paint the words on paper for you, so your words are more descriptive.

What are the benefits of arts integration?

The benefits of arts integration are documented. In the academic year 1997-1998, the University of New Hampshire conducted an evaluation of a year-long course of Picturing Writing, which was then being used in 39 states. The results documented significant gains in the writing skills of students who were taught consistently through this model, compared with a demographically matched comparison group. In 1999, the Main Street School in Exeter, New Hampshire, adopted Picturing Writing school-wide and integrated this visual approach into its language arts and science curriculum. Main Street has continued implementing the model, which has resulted in impressive standardized test score data over time.1 Since 2000, Main Street’s third-grade Title 1 students have scored above the state average of all 3rd grade students. Susan O’Connor, Director of Instruction for Language Arts and Science at Main Street School, stated that (arts integration) has given our teachers the tools they need to move our lowest-performing students forward.

Similar conclusions have been reached by other studies. The 1999 report Involvement in the Arts and Human Development (Catterall et. al., UCLA) showed that students participating in the arts show stronger academic achievement in the humanities and other subjects than students who do not participate in the arts. The study Learning in and Through the Arts: Curriculum Implications (Burton et. al., Columbia University, 1999) concluded that students with greater involvement in the arts showed not only greater academic achievement, but also greater self-confidence in their studies. Other investigations have returned evidence of the connection between academic achievement and arts integration.

  • In Arts in the Basic Curriculum, a statewide arts integration program in South Carolina, the percentage of students in an arts-based curriculum rated higher in scores on standardized tests than did students in non-arts-based schools. The study showed that an arts-based curriculum does not harm students’ scores on standardized tests, which had been a fear.
  • In Chicago, the 30 public schools taking part in a citywide arts partnership found evidence that an arts-based curriculum can raise student achievement levels in the aggregate.
  • The Minneapolis program Arts for Academic Achievement, conducted under an Annenberg Foundation grant, indicated that professional development of teachers could lead to improved student academic performances in an arts-based curriculum.
  • New York City public schools participating in a program of the nonprofit Center for Arts Education found that an arts-based curriculum can raise reading scores for disadvantaged students.

The mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act threaten to push humanities and the arts to the margins of the curriculum. SAIL’s purpose is to place the arts at the center of the curriculum as not only content areas, but also as instructional frameworks that will allow each student to construct personal meaning in the humanities and other content areas.


A User’s Guide to Arts Integration (PowerPoint slideshow)

Programs to provide ideas, support, consultation, and/or professional development.

The Varieties of Arts Integration (VAI), developed by the Arts for Academic Achievement Project at the University of Minnesota. Each level in the framework represents a variety of integration. One variety is not better than the other, but as one moves up from the bottom to the top, the arts and non-arts become more closely interwoven.

Research and Evaluation from the Integrated Learning Project

Programs to Provide Ideas

The following programs are active in New Hampshire making them excellent resources for visiting and consulting. The tables include information that might help you make a decision about where to start in finding the right support resource.

The programs:

  • Capitol Center for the Arts
  • Educational Theater Collaborative
  • Imagination Quest
  • Integrated Instructional Model (IIM)
  • New Hampshire Alliance for Arts Education
  • New Hampshire Music Festival
  • New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
  • Picturing Writing: Fostering Literacy Through Art
  • SmART Schools

The information for each program includes:

  • The name
  • Contact information
  • Answers to the following questions:
    1. What is the purpose of the program?
    2. Who is served by the project?
    3. What schools have been servied by the project? Describe the capacity.
    4. What and how often do the activities occur?
    5. How long has the program been in place?
    6. What resources can you provide for supporting arts integration?
    7. What are the key achievements to date?
    8. What are the key challenges and goals that you have?
    9. How do we know if we are successful?


Research and Evaluation from the Integrated Learning Project

From the beginning, the Integrated Learning Project recognized the importance of maintaining research and evaluation standards. Main Street Academix was consulted to provide this perspective. W.K. Preble and Katie Knowles summed up their findings in the Integrated Learning Project Research Consultant’s Final Report (June, 2006). In brief, the report provides continua for evaluating integrated arts programs, case studies of four nationally funded New Hampshire arts integration models, and guidance for future research. For New Hampshire, this report sets the course for future research, analysis, and implementation of integrated arts programs. All of the evidence included in the report highlights the potentials and possibilities for improving student learning in the arts and other disciplines.

Integrated Learning Project Research Consultant’s Final Report provides a common template by which to view various arts integration models. Wind In Our SAILS provides a layer of context. Finally, with the Center for School Renewal creating a web presence for SAIL, schools and communities who share the belief that arts integration is important not only to the learning of our children, but also to their well-being now have a state-based resource that captures an even wider range of innovative arts integration activities in our state.